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Progressive Movements, Israel, and Anti-Semitism

Dr. Philip Berger

By Dr. PHILIP BERGER Special to The Jewish Post & News Some organizations and persons holding themselves out to be progressive have grown increasingly hostile to Zionism and to Israel ever since the 1967 Arab Israeli war. Their claims that Israel is a colonialist and racist state sometimes equate with the denial of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. They have thrown virtually every imaginable slander at Israel, with the intent of delegitimizing and eliminating the only Jewish state.

Some progressives have expressed anti-Semitic sentiments in their fury at Israel. Other progressives who are not Jewish insist on defining for the Jews what is anti-Semitic and what is not.

To me, being a Zionist in 2022 means that I accept as primordial the right and the necessity of survival of the Jewish people, and the right and the necessity of a Jewish state capable of ensuring that survival.
Hence, as a Jew, I also believe anything which undermines or threatens Israel’s survival undermines or threatens the existence of the Jewish people and is, ipso facto, anti-Semitic.
Holding such an existential position does not diminish my five-decades long belief in an independent Palestinian state, support for full civil and political rights of Palestinians in Israel or my opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Jewish self determination and survival and Palestinian self determination and survival are not incompatible. I believe that the former is under serious threat by many in diverse progressive movements.

Some progressives disagree, claiming that Palestinian solidarity is rooted in anti-racism. The 2001 Durban conference on racism uprooted that claim. Non-Governmental Organizations connected to Palestinian groups distributed anti-Semitic materials including “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. T-shirts with a swastika and Star of David were handed out and placards were held high proclaiming, “If only Hitler had won.”

The 2020 European Union report on the pedagogical materials of the Palestinian Authority catalogued an intoxicating amount of outright anti-Semitic tropes and caricatures. The Hamas leadership continues this enterprise with its promotion of the blood libel against Jews. Progressives are silent.

Palestinian solidarity rooted in anti-racism? Not always.

Many progressives call for a one-state solution – a state to be shared by Jews and Palestinians. In effect, this would turn time back to before the 1948 Jewish state’s establishment, when Jews relied for millennia on the beneficence of others for their survival. We all know how the Jews have fared over time with that arrangement.
For progressives, the idea of one state is a utopian aspiration, no different than a world without borders. But such a utopia would be fatally catastrophic for Jews. It is predictable what would happen. The inevitability of a murderous assault on the Jews, along with the loss of Jewish self-determination, are what make the project of one state anti-Semitic.

Some progressives say that the era of ethnic, racial, or religious nation-states is fading. Such a claim is absent any evidence, especially in the Middle East. But even if nation-states are somehow destined to fade, why should the Jews go first? It is the Jews who have been excluded forever from nation-states, having endured expulsions, forced conversions, boycotts, isolation, and industrialized genocide. That, indeed, is why they need their own nation-state.

Apparently frustrated by such debates, progressives have been seeking to exclude from public discourse both the Zionist perspective and the very idea that the progressive position is anti-Semitic. A former Green Party MP exclaimed that there are “no two sides to this conflict, only human rights abuses” by Israel, which she accused of pursuing a policy of apartheid. The progressive Zionist position is thus derided and delegitimized.
At the same time, the progressive movement’s concept of intersectionality excludes Jews as objects of racist hatred by applying whiteness to the Jewish people, hence consolidating the bigoted view of Jews as powerful and dominating. History is full of examples of Jews being oppressed, excluded, and murdered. Jewish history is full of examples of periods of success and integration of Jews only to be followed by pogroms and genocide. Yet many progressives effectively deny this history, portraying Jews as racist oppressors. How can racist oppressors be objects of racist hatred?
Anti-Zionism rooted in anti-racism? Not necessarily.
Last spring a federal New Democratic Party Member of Parliament participated in a “Building Solidarity” conversation with former United Kingdom Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is widely viewed by British Jews as hostile to Jews. Regarding the Labour Party under Corbyn, the United Kingdom Equality and Human Rights Commission in an October 2020 report “identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints across the Labour Party”, and “identified multiple failures in the systems it uses to resolve them”. The EHRC “concluded that there were unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labour Party is responsible.” What is a federal NDP MP doing meeting with a politician tainted by anti Semitism? How did the NDP leader let this so-called conversation proceed with one of his MPs along side Corbyn, under whom anti Semitism ran rampant in the UK Labour party?
Later in the spring two non-Jewish former NDP MPs sponsored a resolution to have the federal NDP oppose the IHRA definition of anti Semitism at its national convention. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by 34 countries, including Canada; by the European Union; and by numerous local governments and institutions around the world. The IHRA definition explicitly declares that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” Good faith critique which does not undermine or threaten the existence of Israel as a Jewish state is not anti-Semitic.
But why should Israel be subject to a different standard of scrutiny than that levelled against other nations? It appears that only the Jewish character of Israel demands that it be more harshly judged than nations engaging in mass detention, gang rape, forced starvation and killings.

While some 60 Jewish NDP members and two Holocaust survivors publicly supported the resolution, the convention was urged to reject the resolution by over a hundred Canadian Jewish advocacy organizations, including synagogues, Holocaust survivor groups, rabbis, and communal agencies.
How is that that those outside the community feel free to define for the victims what constitutes racism? How can leaders of a major political party be colliding with the leadership of any ethnic community?

Yet some progressives who regularly bash Israel continue to claim they are being silenced by unjust accusations of anti-Semitism. No mainstream Canadian Jewish organization, even the most conservative, states that criticism of Israel constitutes anti Semitism, none. And none has ever stated that every critique of Israel is an existential threat to the state. Critics of Israel have no problem whatsoever criticizing Israel and the full-time denouncers have no problem denouncing Israel. The conservative Jews have done a pretty poor job of silencing anyone.

The ferocious obsession of some critics of Israel is frequently couched in language about ending the occupation of the land “from the river to the sea.” As they know full well, this geographical reference to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is code for replacing the entire state of Israel with a Palestinian state. Nothing could be more anti-Semitic in substance or intent than that.
Anti-Zionists are not simply criticizing Israel; they want to take it down as a Jewish state. Their definition of being silenced is having to endure any expression of opinion that is opposed to their own. Their double standard is breathtaking. They use code to advocate the elimination of the only Jewish state and no other country. That is why the IHRA definition rightfully calls them out as anti-Semitic.

The distinction between anti Zionism and anti Semitism is tissue thin. Only for Jews is self determination and autonomy, Zionism, castigated as a racist endeavour. Only for Jews is reclamation of their unforfeited homeland considered as colonialism. Only for Jews is the accusation hurled by a faculty association president that their self determination movement is just an “entitled powerful Zionist minority” conducting “psychological warfare.” at the university.

Anti Israel actors on the Left call for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel, not just in the occupied territories. BDS today is viewed as a non- violent form of protest. Boycotts against Jews date back to the 19th century in Hungary and were instigated in Russia, Austria, Ukraine, Poland, the United States and even in Quebec in the 1930s. The culmination of the Jewish boycott under Nazi Germany rule was Kristallnacht (literally “Crystal Night”) in November 1938 when over 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Boycotts of Jews have always been deeply connected to anti Semitism and violence against Jews. No wonder Jews view the Left’s exclusive focus of BDS on Israel as inherently anti Semitic.

One of the Canadian boycotters posted a cartoon of a puppeteer controlling a puppet of former Prime Minister Harper “handing out sodastream which support the occupation of Palestine”. Though perhaps inadvertent it comes perilously close to a replication of the classic anti-Semitic portrayal of powerful Jews controlling the state, such cartoons going as far back as the late 19th century and featuring prominently in Nazi propaganda.

During the most recent war between Israel and Hamas in May, little attention was directed to the genocide in Tigray. At the same time Gaza was being bombed, Tigray women were being gang raped, citizens were being executed with bullets shot in the back of their necks and the population was on the verge of mass starvation provoked by Ethiopian military forces. But that was not enough to bring 5000 Torontonians out on to the streets as happened in the protest against Israel. Some body counts count. Others do not.

Not to be outdone, a prominent Canadian activist with a long history of attacking Israel but with no connection to the Jewish state posted this last August about Afghanistan: “If you are not an expert on #Afghanistan, have not been keeping up with what has been occurring, and are not directly impacted by what is happening don’t share unsolicited opinions and takes”. Only for the Jewish state is gratuitous commentary permitted and encouraged.

Some progressives blame the rise of worldwide anti-Semitism on Israeli government policies and actions. By holding Jews responsible for the hatred directed against them by anti-Semites, these progressives are giving the anti-Semites a licence to hate Jews. At the same time, some progressive movements are subjecting their Jewish members to a de facto test of fidelity: denounce Israel or face political excommunication. The irony here is that denouncing Israel would bring progressive Jews into common cause with anti-Semites on the Right as well as the Left.
Disavowing Jewishness or tests of loyalty took place historically in relation to Christianity, Islam, feudal rulers, and some governments. Loyalty tests in the Left are a continuation of centuries of anti Jewish pressure and sanctions.

Some progressives complain that Palestinian rights are not given fair time or space in the discourse. The facts are otherwise. In 2020, the United Nations General Assembly condemned Israel three times more often than it condemned all other nation-states collectively. Fifty percent of United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions are similarly directed at Israel. Israel Palestine is the only permanent agenda item at their meetings (number 7) and the only permanent commission of the UNHRC is Israel Palestine. Nearly every UN subject specific committee targets only Israel whether in health, culture, or women’s rights. The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in its three meetings since 2001 (the first in 52 years) centres out Israel only for censure and condemnation. Nor do the world’s media ignore the Palestinians – far from it. Just turn on the news.

What makes some progressive movements anti-Semitic? Their penchant for disproportionately maligning Israel relative to their denunciation of widespread human-rights violations elsewhere on the globe. Their denial of Jewish self-determination. Their erasure of Jewish indigeneity in the land of Israel. Their failure to include anti-Jewish hatred in notions of intersectionality. Their creation and distribution of hateful materials. Their strategy of blaming Israel, not anti-Semites, for anti-Semitism worldwide. Their denial of the right of Jews to defend themselves. And their dissembling about their true aim, which is to take down the Jewish state.

Progressives free of anti-Semitism? Some are not.

Philip Berger is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been involved in left wing causes and issues for 50 years.

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Opinion

Algorhythm — Who Could Ask For Anything More? 

By MICHAEL POSNER It was long claimed that technique was neutral. Today, that is no longer a useful distinction. The power and autonomy of technique are so well secured that it…has become the judge of what is moral, the creator of a new morality. Thus, it plays the
role of creator of a new civilization as well. — Jacques Ellul
I no longer believe that technology is simply a matter of means, which men can use well or badly. As an end in itself, it inhibits the pursuit of other ends in the society it controls. — George Grant

The other day, a friend posed the following question: how did the Western, liberal left become so anti-Semitic? 
Gary Saul Morson calls this the Dostoevsky problem. In a recent essay in Mosaic Magazine, Morson — a professor of humanities at Northwestern University — notes that the Russian novelist was simultaneously among the most compassionate of men and yet, in his later years, a rabid, dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite. What makes good people hold horrendous beliefs, Morson asks. 
In other words, how is it that so many otherwise humane, caring, well-educated people can embrace such a toxic ideology as anti-Semitism?
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about right-wing anti-Semitism, an ugly and genuine phenomenon on its own. I’m not talking about the carefully veiled discrimination that still exists in corporate boardrooms, private golf courses and yacht clubs, or the more virulent “Jews will not replace us” strain chanted by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
I’m talking about liberals, people who, in normal circumstances, might be reliably expected to denounce cold-blooded terrorism. And indeed, to be fair, some have. 
But in the effluent of the October 7 pogrom, in defiance of reason itself, a very large segment of the hard-core left — students, high school teachers, college professors, trade unionists, civil servants, social workers, celebrities — has bizarrely chosen to align itself with Hamas, murderers who incinerate grandmothers, mutilate the dead, smash the heads of infants against walls, burn entire families alive, and play catch with the sliced-off breasts of women they have raped, before shooting them in their vaginas. 

Hamas did all of this, as British writer Douglas Murray observed, not with any sense of shame or guilt, but gleefully — jubilantly — dutifully recording the carnage and the horror on their GoPRO cameras.
Even if it were not defending itself against this kind of barbarism, Israel is a country that a liberal left should reflexively support — in fact, celebrate. After all, it’s a beacon of democracy in an authoritarian, theocratic part of the world. It’s a relentless champion of the most cherished liberal values, including free speech. It’s an enlightened defender of women’s and Lgbtq+ rights. And, ex nihilo, it has incubated and developed some of the world’s most transformative consumer and medical technologies. 
Compile a checklist of every bleeding heart leftist’s favourite causes and, by any impartial assessment, Israel would get two thumbs up on every one.
And yet, marching hand-in-hand with the baying mobs at pro-Palestinian rallies, the liberal left endorses calls for Israel’s destruction, lionizes terrorists, supports appeals for Jews (not just Israelis) to be gassed, and proclaims that Hitler was right after all — that the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust was not nearly enough. 
The moral contradiction is so striking that it forces one to ask: how did the left manage to keep its Jew-hatred so well hidden for so long?

In part, it is now obvious, by screening anti-Semitism behind the veil of anti-Zionism. “We’re only criticizing the policies of the state of Israel,” they whined, ad nauseum. Well, at least we can put that lie definitively to rest.
Recently, testifying in Congress, three uber-woke female presidents of once-elite American universities found themselves unable to unequivocally state that calls for Jewish genocide violated campus codes of conduct. 
It was an astonishing moment in the American conversation, one that crystallized the moral depths to which the progressive left, and the Marxist ideology that underpins Critical Race Thinking, has led higher education. 
Use the N word in any conversation, in any context, and you will be cancelled forthwith, probably in perpetuity. Use the wrong pronoun, misgender someone (even unintentionally), attempt to defend a pro-life position on abortion — all of these micro-aggressions, and many more, are deemed acts of violence, threats to the safety of students, for which the campus thought police must be dispatched. God forbid a university student should feel intellectually unsafe, or be forced to deal with the free exchange of ideas.
But explicit calls for the murder of Jews? That, the three college presidents grimly and repeatedly insisted, depends “on context.”
Nor is the left’s support merely rhetorical. Its kaffiyeh-clad legions have defaced Jewish-owned businesses, ripped down posters of hostages, harassed, intimidated and physically assaulted Jews, issued death threats, and fired bullets at synagogues and Hebrew schools. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in the two months after October 7th reached the highest level since it began tracking the figure in 1979.

How does this happen? They can’t all be card-carrying anti-Semites, can they?
I’d like to propose three tentative answers. The first is denial, a blanket refusal to accept documented, historical truth. 
What is denial? Denial is pretending that terrorists are resistance fighters. Denial is maintaining that Jesus was a Palestinian, not a Jewish rabbi. Denial is contending that there once was a land called Palestine governed by indigenous Arabs; it hasn’t happened in all of human history. Denial is claiming Gaza is still “occupied,” although Israel vacated the territory in 2005, ceding control to the Palestinian Authority. Denial is insisting that the state of Israel is somehow illegitimate, ignoring that it was established in May, 1948 in accordance with the United Nations Partition Plan, and was admitted to the UN with full member status the following year. 
In its most egregious form, perhaps, denial is suggesting that Hamas wasn’t in fact the author of October 7th. What really happened, you see, is that the IDF deliberately killed its own citizens, in order to justify invading Gaza and resettling the territory. Sadly, there are people with Ph.Ds, who believe this. 
It is this refusal even to hear counter-evidence, Morson suggests in his Mosaic essay, that characterizes the well-educated bigot. “Even the purest of hearts and the most innocent of people can be drawn into committing…a monstrous offence,” he quotes Dostoevsky as saying. And he cites this passage from The Possessed: “And therein lies the real horror: that…one can commit the foulest and most villainous act without being in the least a villain!…That is our whole affliction today!”

After denial, there is ignorance — of a shocking degree. Let us count the ways.
Among those lustily calling for the extermination of Jews, many have only the thinnest grasp of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They get most of what passes for their understanding from 30-second TikTok videos, or from other morons who get their ‘knowledge’ from TikTok. 
The things anti-Semites don’t know about the Middle East would fill encyclopaedias, were encyclopaedias still published. 
They don’t know that, during the past century, Arab leaders rejected 10 separate peace proposals that would have created an independent Palestinian.
They know that Israel’s 1948 war of independence displaced 700,000 Arab settlers in Israel — the so-called Nakba — but don’t know that an equal number of Jews were evicted from their homes in half a dozen Muslim countries at the same time. 
They don’t know that the name ‘Palestine’ has nothing to do with Arabs, who originated in Arabia. They don’t know that the name was given to the region by the Romans, as a deliberate slight to the Jews, who called it Judea and Samaria. 
And of course, when pro-Palestinian protestors chant, “from the river to the sea,” fewer than half can actually name the river or the sea referred to.
“Knowledge is no guarantee of good behaviour,” American philosopher Martha Nussbaum has observed. “But ignorance is a virtual guarantee of bad behaviour.” Or, as English satirist Alexander Pope remarked, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” 
Pope, incidentally, belongs to that now disgraced class of dead, white writers (b.1688-d.1744) whose work used to be taught in what used to be the humanities departments of what used to be institutions of higher learning that used to be dedicated to genuine education. 
Today, of course, the primary goal — at least in the humanities and social sciences — is no longer to teach students how to think critically, but to indoctrinate them, and protect them from the grave injuries inflicted by offensive words.
This objective, the New York Times opined recently, is in many ways understandable, “especially for students who find campuses to be uneasy places because they are among the first in their families to attend college. One way to make students feel safe, schools have decided, is to restrict speech that upsets students.”
Put aside for the moment the notion that college and university is precisely where students should be exposed to the cut and thrust of intellectual debate. But wait a minute: wasn’t a previous generation of students also the first in their families to receive a higher education? I’m thinking of battle-scarred Second World War veterans, who on the killing fields of Europe and the Pacific confronted actual aggression and genuine violence.
Not so long ago, one looked to the humanities departments to illuminate the great minds of western civilization, to teach undergraduates how to think critically, and see beyond binary options in the marketplace of ideas. At Montreal’s McGill University, for example, Professor Louis Dudek taught a two-year course called Great Writings of European Literature, which covered everything from Voltaire’s Candide to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Today, the humanities are largely an afterthought — enrolments plunged 30 per cent between 2005-2020 — and those who do enlist are lectured by rigid commissars of identity politics. 

The left’s ignorance also extends to the historical persecution of Jews. A recent survey found that one in five Americans aged 18 to 30 believe the Holocaust is a myth. Even more maintain that the six million deaths recorded are exaggerated.
You can hardly fault them for their cluelessness. In colleges and universities, the narrative is wall-to-wall Palestinian victimhood, Israeli belligerency.
The mainstream media — the BBC, NPR, CBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, The Independent, as well as Reuters and the Associated Press — has become an echo chamber, repeating the same message, along with evocative images and videos: that Israel is a white, racist, colonialist enterprise illegally occupying someone else’s land, and that it is principally interested in killing Arab women and children.
In a recent essay in The Economist, former New York Times Op-ed page editor James Bennett — he was forced to resign in 2020 after publishing a controversial piece by Republican Senator Tom Cotton — charged that the once-liberal Times had become illiberal, shifting from “an inclination to favour one side of the national debate to an impulse to shut debate down altogether.” 
Standard practices at both the CBC, the BBC and elsewhere virtually guarantee a skewed picture of the conflict. Their idea of journalistic balance is to interview one Arab/Palestinian spokesperson and one Israeli, although the latter almost invariably is a left-winger who despises his government as much as the Arabs. When IDF representatives or Israeli diplomats are invited on air, they are grilled as if they were on trial at Nuremberg, while Palestinian mouthpieces are given carte blanche to lie, distort and defame, without pushback. 
Another common tactic is the deliberate omission of news that vindicates an Israeli talking point, or stigmatizes Arabs. Thus the refusal to label Hamas a terrorist organization. Thus the willingness to uncritically accept any claim of Israeli aggression, while failing to correct the record when the facts exonerate the IDF. 
One example: when Israel asserted that Hamas had turned Gaza’s hospitals into military fortresses, the mass media worked strenuously to disparage the evidence. But when the medical chief of Kamal Edwan Hospital admitted that he had served as a lieutenant colonel in Hamas since 2010, and that 16 other doctors, nurses and paramedics on staff were members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas terror wing, the BBC, CBC and others simply ignored the story.

The polarization that marks the Gaza debate, however — and the anti-Semitic fervour it has unleashed — is a symptom of a much deeper problem: the binary universe we now inhabit.
In 1937, a 21-year-old named Claude Shannon submitted his master’s thesis to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its deceptively boring title — A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits — obscured a revolutionary finding: that the simple, binary structure of Boolean algebra, in which variables are either true or false, ones or zeroes, could form the building block of complex computers. These on-off switches were referred to as bits; a package of eight became a byte. 
Various scholars have since deemed it the most important academic thesis of the century. Regardless, it’s fair to say that Shannon’s insight forms the bedrock of our hyper-technological world.
In fact, the binarial approach has become a prominent feature of far more than computer programming; it now governs an ever increasing swatch of daily social interaction. Played out largely on line, public debate of the most important policy issues — politics, war, abortion, climate change, immigration — is conducted almost exclusively in binary — i.e., polarized — terms. 
It’s either for or against, yes or no, true or false. Good or evil. Safe or unsafe spaces. Pro-life or pro-choice. Pro carbon taxes or against. Pro curbs on migrants or in favour of open borders. Pro Putin/Russia or pro Zelenskyy/Ukraine. Pro Israel or pro Hamas. And philo-Semite or anti-Semite. 
On Mega’s Facebook, opposing voices joust and parry, while ‘friends’ signal approval or disapproval with thumbs up Like or Dislike icons, much like Romans voting on the fate of Christians in the Coliseum. 
On TikTok — the platform’s very name suggests its binary construct — the propaganda duel on Gaza, climate change and other hot-button issues is conducted by warring videos. 
On TV reality shows (America’s Got Talent, Master Chef, Dancing with the Stars, etc.), judges decide whether contestants will go home (i.e., die) or return for another week (i.e., live); literally on The Voice, and metaphorically elsewhere, judges’ chairs either turn for Yes, or do not turn for a No. In one new Fox TV show, Snake Oil, participants win or lose by determining whether a new product invention is real or snake oil. Many video games, a sealed universe occupied by tens of millions of young men and women, force players to make simplistic binary choices about heroes and villains — i.e, about morality itself.
It gets worse. The algorithms that regulate social media platforms — Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), etc. — are written to provide content that satisfies pre-formed opinion, and thus entrench biases. Watch, if you can stomach him, one podcast of anti-Israel British activist Owen Jones, and the algorithm will soon feed you six more. The same phenomenon, of course, applies to virtually everything else: right-wing commentators, sports highlight reels, pet videos, TV sit-com and film clips, perilous rollercoaster rides, pickle ball tournaments, etc. 

The operations of old school media are not appreciably different. The New York Times, James Bennett lamented, is essentially serving partisan audiences versions of reality they already prefer, a relationship that “proves self-reinforcing. As Americans became freer to choose among alternative versions of reality, their polarisation intensified.”
McLuhan was right, after all: the medium is the message. Because, in hierarchical terms, content — and therefore meaning itself — now takes a back seat to the technological imperative, the algorithmic construct, which is designed to stoke and exploit primal emotions like fear and anger. Bland doesn’t sell. Neutrality won’t keep the eyeballs glued. 

In Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, writer Anne Applebaum notes that “polarization has moved from the online world into reality…The result is a hyper-partisanship. There can be no neutrality in a polarized world, because there can be no nonpartisan or apolitical institutions.” Thus are anti-Semites born and nurtured.
Taking stock of the dismal, post-First World War social landscape, the poet Yeats feared that the centre would no longer hold. “The best,” he wrote, “lack all conviction. The worst are full of passionate intensity.” Is that not an apt description of our current malaise? 
Today, more a century later, the centre itself has essentially vanished and — flung centrifugally, algorithmically, to the margins — we are left bellowing at each other across the vast abyss. 

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Opinion

Hamas savages make no distinction between Israeli Jews, Arabs

Myron Love

By MYRON LOVE I remember many years ago attending a presentation by Simon Wiesenthal, the world’s leading Nazi hunter, during which he made the point that the focus of Holocaust education should not be on the number six million – the number of estimated Jews who were murdered – but rather on the 12 million martyrs – including other targeted groups such as the Roma, people who were gay, the mentally and physically handicapped and the many great many Slavic people who were also murdered. After the Jews, the Slavs were next on the list.
By focusing strictly on Germans killing Jews, he observed, it became too easy to make it out to be only Germans versus Jews – thereby making it easier for Holocaust deniers and absolving the other European peoples who were complicit in the killings.
Similarly, while we naturally mourn our Jewish brethren who were so horribly slaughtered on October 7, we need to also bear in mind that Hamas made no distinction in its murderous rampage between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs or between Israelis and foreign workers.
In a posting for The Gatestone Institute on November 30, Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted that he Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel on October 7 did not slaughter Jews alone. The terrorists also murdered and kidnapped scores of Muslim citizens of Israel, including members of the Bedouin community. The terrorists’ murder spree made zero distinction between young and old, Muslim and Jew.
“Scores of Arab Israelis were wounded, murdered or taken prisoner,” he reported.
One such brave individual was 23-year-old Awad Darawshe, an Arab-Israeli paramedic who was on duty at the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, which was among the first locations under attack. When the medical staff on site were ordered to flee, he insisted on remaining behind to treat the wounded.
Abu Toameh suggests that the paramedic thought that because he was Arab, he could reason with the killers. He was murdered nonetheless.
Another courageous Arab-Israeli that the writer noted, 50-year-old Abed al-Rahman Alnasasrah, was murdered by Hamas terrorists when he attempted to rescue people from the music festival. He was married and a father of six children.
Fatima Altallaqat, 35, from the Bedouin village near Ofakim, was murdered while working with her husband near the city of Ofakim in southern Israel. She was a mother of nine children, the eldest nine years old.
Abu Toameh quotes her husband as saying: “We’re a religious Muslim family and she wore the traditional headdress of a devout woman. It is inconceivable they [Hamas terrorists] could not see who was inside [the car]. They were five meters away from her as they passed.”
Forty bullets were fired into her.
Abu Toameh further cites the comments of Suleiman Zayadneh, brother and uncle, respectively, to four of the Arab-Israeli hostages, who describes himself “as proud to be a Palestinian and Muslim”.
‘The people who came to shoot and kill — they know nothing of religion,” the writer quoted Zayadneh as saying. “These [Hamas] people came and killed left and right.”
Abu Toameh went on to reference the words of Nuseir Yassin, a video blogger with 65 million followers. Two days after the massacre, he wrote: “I realized that… to a terrorist invading Israel, all citizens are targets. More than 40 of them [the murdered] are Arabs. Killed by other Arabs. And I do not want to live under a Palestinian government. Which means I only have one home, even if I’m not Jewish: Israel…. So from today forward, I view myself as… Israeli first. Palestinian second. Sometimes it takes a shock like this to see so clearly.”
Abu Toameh reported that “there have been many storie about reciprocal inter-communal generosity and heroism in the aftermath of this national tragedy, and they create hope for the future”.
He quoted a statement by the Darwashe Family:
“We are very proud of Awad’s actions… This is what we would expect from him and what we expect from everyone in our family — to be human, to stay human and to die human.”
Abu Toameh also quoted Ali Alziadna, four of whose family members were kidnapped, as saying that he was “touched by the outpouring of support” by other Israelis.
“People from all over the country have come to hug and support our family,” Alziadna said. “The entire nation is one family now.”

Abu Toameh pointed out that many Arab citizens of Israel serve as IDF officers and policemen, risking their lives for their fellow Israelis. Many are serving at the front lines, saving lives.
Undoubtedly, Abu Toameh suggested, one of the objectives of the Hamas massacre, in addition to slaughtering as many Israelis as possible, was to thwart normalization between Israel and Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Hamas may also have aimed to damage relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel.
”The terror group was, without doubt, hoping that we would witness another cycle of violence between Jews and Arabs inside Israel, similar to that which erupted in May 2021,’ Abu Toameh posited. “Then, Hamas succeeded in inciting a large number of Arab citizens of Israel to take to the streets and attack their Jewish neighbors and Israeli police officers.
“This time, however, the Arab-Israelis have not heeded the calls by Hamas. One reason is that Arab-Israelis saw, with their own eyes, how Hamas terrorists make no distinction between Jews and Muslims.
“Hamas has repeatedly demonstrated that it cares nothing for the well-being of Arabs and Muslims. From their luxury homes and hotel rooms in the safety of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas leaders give the orders to attack Israel and then sit back and let the world weep over the destruction they wrought upon their own people.
“On October 7,” Abu Toameh concluded, “Hamas metaphorically shot itself in the foot by showing the world, with unfathomably ghoulish pride, by way of Go-Pro cameras and other self-documentation, that it has neither a religious nor a secular-humanist set of values. Perhaps the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should look at the Arab citizens of Israel and note how they enjoy equal rights, democracy, freedom of speech and a free media. If Palestinians wish to live well, like the Arab-Israelis, this is the time for them to get rid of Hamas and all the terror leaders who, for seven decades, have brought them nothing but one disaster after another.”
It is too bad that so many gullible fools in our Western societies refuse to open their eyes to the truth.

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Opinion

An Arab Trusteeship Council for Gaza

By Prof. BRYAN SCHWARTZ Oct. 17, 2023 (Originally posted to The Times of Israel)
1 No peace is possible with Hamas. It is genocidally antisemitic. This position is foundational, not rhetorical or mutable. Waiting for the emergence of a “pragmatic” version of Hamas is suicidally naïve.
2 Peace and cooperation are possible with most of Israel’s non-Iranian neighbours. They are militarily threatened by Iran, not Israel. For many in those countries, Iran’s version of Islam might be more problematic from the religious perspective than Israel’s Jewishness.
3 Hamas’ attack was partly to prevent a Saudi deal and a long-term economic cooperation
4 Israel has no territorial claim to Gaza and no material, religious, or ideological interest in running it.
5 Israel has vital moral and material interests in the emergence of a peaceful, demilitarized, and prosperous Gaza. If that can occur in the medium term, a long-term reconciliation of the Palestinians with Israel is achievable.
6 As and when Hamas is evicted from power, Gaza will need some new form of government.
7 The Palestinian authority probably cannot be trusted to take over Gaza. It is corrupt and lacked- and probably still lacks- credibility with a majority of the population in Gaza.
8 There used to be a concept called trusteeship in international law, whereby foreign powers would govern a territory in its best interests until its final status is clarified at the wishes of its own people.
9 The United Nations cannot be trusted to administer Gaza – any more than it has shown to be trustworthy to maintain strategic security in Southern Lebanon or to operate UNWRA in a manner that is effective for Palestinians and not hostile to Israel.
10 Consider this alternative. After Hamas is evicted from power, there is an interim period- say five to seven to ten years -of governance over Gaza by an Arab trusteeship council. The Council members are appointed primarily by Arab states sympathetic to Israel and eager to see the people of Gaza thrive. This Council could include local Gaza representatives and a representative of the Palestinian Authority but the majority would be representative of states like Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
11 The trusteeship agreement would be formal, agreed to by Israel, and unequivocally state its objectives, including:
-demilitarizing Gaza;
-defining the sole purposes for which outside reconstruction and development money can be spent and requiring strict accounting
-ensuring that the education system in Gaza is not contaminated by antisemitic hatred;
-promoting sound administration of Gaza, including providing for transparent and non-corrupt government, with significant safeguards for human rights, and conformity to the rule of law;
-promoting the development of a real economy for Gaza, not one fuelled primarily by international subsidies.
13 No state could participate in the Council without having a peace agreement with Israel.
14 In fact, the creation of the Council and Saudi participation in it could be part of a peace deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal could involve a reconstruction package from the Saudis for Gaza, which would help secure the support of the people of Gaza for the Council arrangement as an interim measure.
15 Policing would be carried out by a force composed of Palestinians and members of the police forces of Trusteeship states, under the direction of the Council.
16 The net effect would be to remove Gaza from Iran’s influence and establish temporary control by a consortium of mostly Sunni states. The latter would be chosen from among those that are at least reasonably friendly to Israel and genuinely committed to good governance in Gaza.
17 The definitive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be achieved in a series of steps. Compromises are even more painful if they are framed as permanent. But if practical peace, stability, and some prosperity can be achieved in the medium term in Gaza and the West Bank, an amicable and enduring resolution should be achievable with the Palestinians.
18 While Israel is under severe military menace right now, it is not too early to think about how a positive political outcome can be achieved after the necessary and painful battle is concluded.
19 The current catastrophe is a so-far successful attempt by the regime in Teheran to disrupt peace negotiations involving Israel, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. Political vision along with military force might enable Israel to turn around the situation and complete and consolidate a lasting peace with almost all of its Arab neighbours and to set the stage for a formal and enduring peace with the Palestinians. The Teheran regime would be isolated, diminished in prestige, and more likely to be replaced from within.
About the Author
Bryan’s Jewish-themed musical “Consoulation: A Musical Mediation” premiered in the Spring of of 2018; https://consoulation.com His new album will appear in the coming months. Bryan Schwartz graduated with a doctorate in law from Yale School and holds an endowed chair at the University of Manitoba Law School. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and collections of essays. Bryan also created and helps to deliver an annual summer program at Hebrew University in Israeli law and society. He has served as a visiting Professor at both HU and Reichman university. . As a practising lawyer, Bryan has argued a number of cases at the Supreme Court of Canada, advised governments, and served as an arbitrator at the provincial, national and international level.

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